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Los Bronces Copper Mine

An expansion project high in the Chilean Andes

 Los Bronces Copper Mine

The expansion of the Los Bronces copper mine was one of the largest mining job in Chile, and one of the largest ever for Bechtel’s Mining & Metals business.

Located in the Andes northeast of Santiago, the project included expansion of a copper concentrator, construction of a new concentrator, crushing and conveying equipment, grinding and flotation circuits, and other equipment. The project more than doubled throughput at the facility.

The project’s high altitude—some 3,200 meters above sea level—presented significant challenges. Due to a shortage of oxygen, people’s reactions are slower, so they can’t move at the same pace as under normal conditions. Everyone coming to the job site had to pass medical exams, and some employees had to go on special diets to lose weight or to reduce their blood pressure so they can handle the altitude.

Bechtel performed EPC and construction management for customer Anglo American SUR S.A. Since work began in December 2007, Bechtel’s project scope increased by about 40 percent and included managing engineering and construction of two 52-kilometer slurry and water pipelines connecting the grinding and flotation plants.